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March 2014 – Meditate it’s Great

Without any distractions how many minutes a day do you spend connecting to yourself and how you feel?  Connection does not have to be formal meditation.  For some people it is being outside in nature, a walk, a run or music.  If you do use music for meditation try to find songs without words.  Our brains focus on words if it is language we know and that can interfere with letting go.  For a long time I did not realized how much I used being busy as a way to avoid dealing with how I was feeling.  I have over the years practiced many different forms of relaxation and meditation.  These practices have always provided a calmness and clarity.  For most people, including me, the key is having a dedicated time even if it only five minutes a day.  Setting aside 20 minutes a day can provide real benefits.

Sometimes I practice a mindful meditation.  You can start sitting comfortably in silence just focusing on the point where you are most aware of your breath.  The focus is especially on your upper lip where you can feel your inhalation and exhalation.  For me this still is at times a difficult practice but very beneficial.  It is amazing where your mind can go when you first try to focus it.  One of my most difficult early mindful meditation days included this stream.  I wonder just how long is the average length of time for a turtle to turn over when it is flipped on it’s back?  OK, just focus on your breath.  Does it vary by species would a box turtle flip quicker than a snapping turtle?  Now just come back to your breath.  Do turtles rescue each other when they flip?  Really Jude now back to your breath.  Would a snapping turtle help a box turtle?  Breath, breath, breath.  Would a rabbit ever help a turtle flip back over?  Just breathe now and look it up on the internet later!!!  If your mind wanders anywhere just continually come back to your breath.  It really does get easier with practice.

Meta is another form of meditation sending loving kindness to the world.  I start my day with this practice.  I started with sending loving kindness to myself.  The next level is sending the intention to a person, persons or a group.  Finally practice sending the intention to all beings.  I have changed my meta mediations over time.  Here is an example that I have used.

May I be safe.
May I be happy.
May I feel calm.
May I feel connected to others.
May I see the world with a sense of wonder.

May all beings be safe.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings feel calm.
May all beings feel connected to others.
May all beings see the world with a sense of wonder.

Gratitude meditations can be very powerful.  I lost my mother at 19, the grandfather (who also helped raise me) at 23 and my father by the time I was 27.  I felt very alone.  I then spent about 15 minutes every night for six months in gratitude meditation for them and what they gave me to take forward in my life.  It took that long to turn some of the pain of loss into some thankfulness.  I recently attend an event for the Sacred Salon at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  In a group meditation we sent gratitude back to the people who made the building.  We were grateful for the infrastructure that allowed us to attend the event including the roads.  I really enjoyed going to a deep level of thankfulness for things we often take for granted.

For a link to a Mayo Clinic article on meditation CLICK HERE.